Solar Boats fly under Low Bridge.

The Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team have been limboing into action again – negotiating a sailing course which includes passing at speed under a bridge with headroom of just 1 metre – to record another spectacular 1st Place result!

The races were held on the Noordhollandsch Kanaal around the Dutch village of Purmerend on the 22nd and 23rd of June and featured several stages, the main one being a course of 48 km along what is a working canal. The original course was planned to be 64km – but the stage had to be reduced owing to the weather conditions. Our team finished this course in a time of just 1h:33m:39s

Because it is a working canal, despite flying along at speeds which average over 30kmh, normal canal traffic has to be taken into account. One of the obstacles they encountered was a house-boat section – of just under a kilometre – where strict speed limits apply in deference to those who use the canal 365 days per year! The course also includes no less than 21 bridges …under some of which you have to duck.

In the afternoon of the first day Clafis participated in the Speed run, clocking a top speed of 48.9kmh.

The second day of the event began cloudy, but gradually brightened allowing Clafis to reach average speeds of 39kmh over the 26 kilometre event.

The Solar boats are not only tested on their stamina and speed – there was a slalom event to test the pilots skills at manoeuvrability, and we are delighted to announce that the Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat team came first in all events!

A great deal of planning, reconnaisance and maintenance goes into securing repeated success on the water, and you can meet some of the team responsible for sustained performance by watching their FaceBook video of that most nervous of operations …the launching of the boat!

Participating boats in the adult races have a maximum length of 8 metres and beam of 2.4 – the deck being almost entirely taken up by solar panels to a maximum area extending to 9.2m². Effectively the panels deliver all the required power to drive the 115kg vessel through the water in real time  – with battery storage limited by the race regulations to a maximum of 1.5kWh. This allows boats to sustain their maximum speed whilst ironing-out the fluctuations caused by changes in cloud cover.  

The cockpit must be such that the pilot can evacuate his vessel in less than 5 seconds – all of which leads to uncluttered decks and complete absence of covered cockpits or aeronautical profiling.

When you get plenty of practice lifting the First Prize Silver Cup – eventually you’ll be able to lift it with one hand.

Victron sponsor the Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team and are delighted with their un-broken string of first-place successes.

Even for those of us who are not yet fluent in the Dutch language, the video on the ‘Clafis’ homepage makes compelling viewing:

Justin Tyers

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